Swiber Announces Sale-Leaseback of Barge, AHTS Vessels

Swiber Engineering Limited (formerly known as Apecs Engineering Limited), has entered into memoranda of agreement for the sale of one pipelaying barge and four anchor handling, towing and supply (AHTS) vessels.

The five separate agreements are entered into simultaneously with the execution of five bareboat charters by the respective buyers for the charter of the same vessels to another wholly owned subsidiary of the company, Swiber Offshore Marine Pte Ltd (formerly known as Swiber Offshore Pte. Ltd.) (Swiber Offshore Marine) for a period of 8 to 10 years (the agreements together with the bareboat charters collectively, the "sale-and-leaseback arrangements").

The vessels comprise a portion of the group's marine assets, namely, four AHTS vessels and one pipelaying barge. The buyers are companies established by R.S. Platou Finans Shipping A.S., one of the major ship leasing arrangers in Norway that specialize in shipping and offshore-related financial schemes in the interest of both shipowners and financial investors:

--Vessel: Swiber Conquest, a pipelaying barge, in the process of conversion; buyer: Raffles Offshore AS; payment terms: 10% cash downpayment with balance payable in cash on delivery (estimated to be in end July 2007)
--Vessel: Swiber Navigator, an AHTS vessel (4,000 bhp), in the process of construction; buyer: Orchard Offshore AS; payment terms: 20% cash downpayment with balance payable in cash on delivery (estimated to be in end August 2007)
--Vessel: Swiber Explorer, an AHTS vessel (4,000 bhp), in the process of construction; buyer: Orchard Offshore AS; payment terms: 20% cash downpayment with balance payable in cash on delivery (estimated to be in end November 2007)
--Vessel: Swiber TBN I, an AHTS vessel (5,000 bhp), in the process of construction; buyer: Orchard Offshore AS; payment terms: 20% cash downpayment with balance payable in cash on delivery (estimated to be in end August 2008)
--Vessel: Swiber TBN II, an AHTS vessel (5,000 bhp), in the process of construction; buyer: Orchard Offshore AS; 20% cash downpayment with balance payable in cash on delivery (estimated to be in end December 2008)

The combined value of the disposal is US$87.5 million and the balance payment is to be made against delivery of the vessels and in exchange for certain delivery documents pertaining to the vessels. Under the sale-and-leaseback arrangements, Swiber is to provide a corporate guarantee in respect of Swiber Offshore Marine’s obligation under the bareboat charters of the vessels.

The sale-and-leaseback arrangements will enable Swiber to reduce its gearing, improve its cash flow and be able to expand the fleet size that the company is currently operating without straining its balance sheet.

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